Being committed to the right partner is not the same as being committed to the right relationship.
If people consistently report that “a good marriage and family life” are “extremely important," then why are the number of marriages decreasing and the number of divorces increasing? In spite of the evidence of the benefits of marriage and the widespread desire for a committed relationship, people’s faith in marriage has fallen over the last 30 years. They do not have a vision for a fulfilling relationship that lasts over time.
This dramatic drop in marriage, and the faith in the institution of marriage, is likely because:
- people are finding it more difficult to meet a committed life partner
- people have just stopped trying to find a relationship
- fewer people have the skills or time necessary to nurture their relationships
With the divorce rate well over 50%, and many people choosing to stay in an unhappy marriage, one can certainly understand why people might shy away from marriage today. After all, who would get on an airplane if a pilot said you had those odds of landing successfully?
If the problem is that people are finding it harder to find a committed partner:
Maybe they are looking for the “right” partner to meet their own needs, rather than looking for someone with whom to create the right relationship that meets both partners’ needs. Or maybe they are simply looking in the wrong place. Telling your best friend that you want a relationship may not work, because you probably share a similar social circle. If you are looking for a relationship, let everyone know! Most people get joy from setting two people up, so they may be happy to help.
If the problem is that people have just stopped trying:
Some people actually choose not to be married or even in a relationship. That is certainly a viable choice. However, many people reject a relationship because they think they “aren’t good at it, and never will be.” They are letting fear hold them in a fixed mindset. To create and maintain a fulfilling and satisfying relationship is not necessarily easy, but it does require, as psychologist Carol Dweck says, a growth mindset – the understanding that failure is how we learn and grow, not who we are. So don’t give up yet!
If the problem is that people aren’t nurturing their relationship:
If they are already in a relationship, they may have become dissatisfied with their partner. They may give up too soon rather than continuing working together on the relationship because they have had negative experiences in the past, and they may not know what else to do. So, once again, do not give up! Our more than 30 years of work with couples has shown us that tools are available, and that they are effective. You may want to see a counselor for help, and there is plenty of information online that can help couples starts conversations with each other.
In any of these cases, whether people are having difficulty creating or maintaining a fulfilling relationship, it is due to having a lack of understanding and a clear vision about what it means to commit to a relationship. In every area of life, people who establish a clear vision are more likely to fulfill on it. Businesses know that and always create a vision statement for important projects. Couples are no different.
The crucial first step in getting anything of value done is commitment. For couples, this means commitment to the relationship as an entity, separate from and beyond just the two individuals. The couple then becomes greater than the sum of the parts. It is something the two partners create together, like their child, and commit to nurture together no matter what. The couple must join together to create a joint vision for their relationship that inspires them, and that they are both willing to commit to.
Commitment is the first step in our 4-step Couple Power program to achieving lifelong love. The four major components, what we call “the four C’s of lifelong love,” are: commitment, cooperation, communication and community. Visit us at couplepower.com for more information and to connect with us.